Hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna spp.) in the Canary Islands

Vulnerable species

Hammerhead sharks in the Canary Islands

Hammerhead sharks are locally known as ‘cornudas’ in the Canary Islands, where to date 2(1) out of the 9 known species(2) in the world have been registered:

  • Scalloped hammerhead (Sphyrna lewini)
  • Smooth hammerhead (Sphyrna zygaena)
The smooth hammerhead shark (Sphyrna zygaena); photo credit Filip Osaer

The smooth hammerhead shark (Sphyrna zygaena)


Vulnerable species

All hammerhead species are vulnerable to incidental captures with a wide range of fishery gears and are highly valued for their fins. The combination of these factors has caused a heavy fisheries pressure on these species, resulting in significant declines of their population sizes worldwide. The decreasing levels were so alarming that 3 out of the 9 species were included CITES Appendix II as a precautionary measure to protect these sharks.


Pioneering research

ElasmoCan advances the first research project in the Canary Islands to obtain basic scientific knowledge of hammerhead sharks. This study of its dynamic population structure will allow us to contribute to a more effective conservation of these particular species.


HAMMERHEAD SHARK RESEARCH: A project that studies hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna spp.) in the Canary Islands to achieve their conservation, employing tagging techniques.

(1)Moro L, Martín J, Garrido M, Izquierdo I (2003) Lista de especies marinas de Canarias (algas, hongos, plantas y animales). Consejería de Política Territorial y Medio Ambiente del Gobierno de Canarias.

(2)Weigmann S (2016) Annotated checklist of the living sharks, batoids and chimaeras (Chondrichthyes) of the world, with a focus on biogeographical diversity. J Fish Biol 88, 837-1037. doi: 10.1111/jfb.12874